Chinese BBQ, 301 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9376 6929
With I Love Dumplings having successfully transported itself down the road to the old bank building on Racecourse Road, its old premises have duly become Chinese BBQ – though they are both run by the same management, going by the receipt I receive for our meal.
Its is, clearly, dedicated to Asian-style BBQ – though this is more strictly in the Chinese tradition … as opposed to the Viet vibe of the superb meal Bennie and I recently enjoyed at Phi Phi 2 in St Albans.
I am looking forward to a good mid-week feed in which I can ponder the differences!
For company I have CTS trooper Marns, a woman of robust appetite and great sparkle.
The menu (see below) is roughly divided into two parts – skewers and BBQ.
We’re told the minimum for skewers is $20 so we order freely – shrimp, calamari, lamb, chicken, Chinese cabbage, enokis, broccoli, lotus root.
They cost per skewer ranges from 50 cents to $2.50.
From the regular BBQ we order ox tongue ($15), corn ($6) and potato ($6).
The latter follow the arrival of the glowing coals for our BBQ set-up and very sesame dipping sauce, kimchi and marinated sprouts.
Then we’re off …
It’s heaps of fun.
The ox tongue, frozen so it can be thinly sliced, cooks the fastest, and is a treat.
The vegetables take quite a bit longer and I am a little dismayed to that some of the spud slices initially turn black.
But it all comes good in the end, the potato browning up nicely and the corn being delicious.
In fact these humble husk discs turn out to be one of the highlights of our meal – so good to have barbecued corn that is also juicy.
Such is not always the case!
Then it’s on to our skewers … and it’s at this point that our meal and evening goes a bit nutty, maybe even a bit haywire.
The skewers are brought to our table all dunked in a bucket of what we take to be some sort of marinade.
We quickly make happy by throwing some on the grill.
Only to be immediately told – no, no – that’s not how you do it.
The skewers, we’re told, have already been cooked out back – steamed, apparently – and are ready to go.
That would explain, perhaps, the flare-up when Marns puts some of the meat skewers on the grill.
We’re a bit non-plussed but soldier on.
Some of what we have – the Chinese cabbage, the lotus root – is far from impressive.
Some – the easily-peeled shrimp, the broccoli – is good.
The broth/soup/marinade in which the skewers have been bathing has oil, chilli (mild by request) and no doubt many other ingredients, the nature of which I am unable to learn from the staff because of language issues on my part.
The lusty, musty and only (for me) partially attractive seasoning recalls in large part some of the flavours much earlier enjoyed – again without being much the wiser – at a Moonee Ponds hot pot joint.
Look, the confusion can be largely attributed to us – it says plainly on the menu (if in rather small type) that the skewers are “hot & spicy pot” food.
On the other hand, it seems very natural that customers only a little familiar with this kind of food, such as we two, would grab a table at an eatery with “BBQ” in its title and “skewers” on its menu … and put the two together in our minds.
No harm done and we have an otherwise enjoyable meal.
But the dunked skewers haven’t provided the sort of charred, smoky tastes for which we came here.
Perhaps a bit more explaining of the place’s food and ordering routines by the staff to new customers is needed here.
Our meal, including two cans of soft drink, comes in at a very reasonable $60.